Turkey’s decision once again to send the “Oruc Reis” research vessel out to sea from Antalya was an unpleasant surprise for Turkey’s supporters within the EU and beyond who are trying to counter the tougher players.
At a time when Greece and Turkey are at the threshold of exploratory talks to resolve differences Turkey is recreating the tense situation we experienced in August.
Ankara’s new, illegal NAVTEX announcing that the ship will operate not far from the Greek island of Kastelorizo just a few hours before German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was to arrive in Athens, Nicosia, and Ankara and a few days before the 15 October EU summit stirred consternation and Maas canceled his visit to Ankara.
Turkey’s activity in the area of Kastelorizo constitutes a great opportunity for Greece.
If the Greek government plays its cards right and remains calm in the face of provocations it can win over even those countries in the EU who at the previous summit refused to include in the conclusions a list of possible sanctions against Turkey so as to warn Ankara that it must change its behaviour.
The best answer to Turkish provocations is always diplomacy. That way Athens demonstrates that it is the trustworthy regional interlocutor and that in contrast with Turkey it can be a basic pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greece is armed with international law of the sea, international law more broadly, and its adherence to the rules of good neighbourly relations.
The more Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exposes himself the better for PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis as he gives Athens yet another argument against Ankara at the upcoming EU summit.